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Former owner of controversial nightclub now working for St. Louis prosecutor

The City of St. Louis ordered Reign owner Dana Kelly to close the restaurant after repeated crime issues there.

ST. LOUIS — The former owner of the controversial Reign nightclub, which the city shut down due to crime issues, is now working for the city’s top prosecutor.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner hired Dana Kelly in August to be an administrative assistant. She’s paying her $50,000.

But, what specifically Kelly is doing for Gardner’s office is unclear.

Gardner’s Assistant Circuit Attorney Andrew Gilfoil cited the Sunshine law’s personnel clause as a reason to withhold Kelly’s job description from the I-Team.

Gardner’s spokeswoman, Allison Hawk, issued a statement, which read: 

"Dana Kelly is a skilled member of the Circuit Attorney's team. Her employment with the CAO is based upon her skills and qualifications. Ms. Kelly deserves an opportunity to earn a living and support her family."

The city’s issues with Kelly’s club began during the pandemic.

On Dec. 15, 2020, the city’s then-Acting Director of Health Dr. Fredrick Echols sent a letter ordering the restaurant to close immediately due to “continued violations” of order No. 8, which requires social distancing and order No. 11, which requires the wearing of face coverings.

Later that month, Kelly announced she was going to run for mayor.

Then, in the fall of 2021, the city revoked Kelly’s liquor license, ordered her to shut down Reign for a year and declared it a nuisance property after police were called there 19 times.

Mayor Tishaura Jones' Interim Public Safety Director Dan Isom said then that: 

"Establishments that have a pattern of incidents happening around their location from people who are patronizing their location, do have a responsibility to ensure more security not only for people who might just be moving through those locations but also for the people who are leaving their location."

Kelly fired back, saying crime was not happening inside her establishment, and that crime was in downtown St. Louis long before her restaurant opened.

This past July, the St. Louis Business Journal reported a judge ordered Kelly to pay nearly $400,000 in back rent.

The I-Team asked Gardner’s office for Kelly’s job title, hire date and salary in November.

Weeks later, the I-Team was told to file a records request for the information.

That records request for her salary, hire date, job title and description were fulfilled one week after it was filed – without the job description.

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